HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WENY) -- The best and the brightest in the Southern Tier gathered together on Tuesday to celebrate their academic accomplishments during the annual Mark Twain Scholars award night.

    "This is the 34th annual Mark Twain Scholars," Horseheads Central Schools Community Information Specialist, Susan Pirozzolo. "Tonight we're honoring the top five percent of the graduates in Chemung county, Spencer Van Etten, Waverly, both public and parochial schools."

    The annual award ceremony was held at the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center in Horseheads. It started out with a dinner, followed by a guest speaker to give the soon-to-be graduates some advice for the future. Afterward, each student was called up by their principal and given a plaque for their accomplishments. The event is coordinated by the Horseheads Central School District, with the help of donations and assistance from various local businesses.

    "We honor our salutatorians and valedictorian, two kids, but this honors more kids," said Pirozzolo. "This honors the top five percent and these kids worked really hard. They've shown up at school, they've done all the work and they've excelled and this is our chance to honor them and say thank you and wish them well."

    For the 51 students recognized, the honor of being able to call themselves Mark Twain Scholars is rewarding.

    "It feels really good," said Waverly High School student, Capria Picco. "We've worked really hard for thirteen years and to see it all coming full circle is really exciting."
    The Mark Twain Scholars has been going on since 1984, and organizers say they'll continue the tradition of honoring the excellence of our students.

    "It feels really great to have his final memory with all the people you've worked so hard with and have your parents talk to the other parents and share their experiences at the same time," said Horseheads High School student, Lindell Williams. "It's really nice."